Inside was the complete set of Time Life Science Library books from 1963.
The volume that my son just happened to pick up and open was Matter. Later I began reading it. It is a total joy to have material like this, untainted and fresh in the age of discovery. So, in the final chapter 'The Start of an Unfinished Chain Reaction" which deals with the science of the "new" atom, on page 176 is quite a gem. So much I had to OCR Scan it. Here it is straight from the scanner. I will bold the good parts.
tion was based on an awareness of an even more hellish source of energy.
Until well into this century, physics concerned itself with the three
states in which matter is commonly found on earth-solid, liquid and
gas. But it is estimated that a preponderance of the material of the uni-
verse exists in yet a fourth state, a violent material that is comparative-
ly rare in human experience. We call it plasma, a name given it in 1920
by one of the early explorers of its properties, the Nobel Prize-winning
American scientist Irving Langmuir.
As noted earlier in these pages, the state of a given substance under a
given pressure depends directly on its temperature. As the temperature
goes up, ice becomes water and water steam. Eventually, if very great
heat is applied, the movement of the H20 molecules becomes so violent
that they start smashing themselves into electrically charged ions. This
. ionization is actually the same process that we observed, in Chapter 6,
in the gases within J. J. Thomson's Crookes tubes. It is the door to the
fourth state of matter.
Plasma, then, is a swarming mass of hot, electrically charged particles
-free electrons carrying a negative charge, and positively charged ions,
the whole being electrically neutral. Some substances require less heat
than others to ionize, but the phenomenon usually does not begin until
temperatures reach at least 5,000° F. or 6,000° F., and it is not really go-
ing full blast until 100,000° F. Even then, the particles keep recombining
spontaneously; thus there are generally neutral atoms along with the
charged particles of the plasma.
The raw material of stars
Plasma pervades the universe in various degrees of concentration. It
is the raw material of which the stars are made, and it fills the space
between all celestial bodies with a thin matrix that throbs and pulsates
with strange waves and currents. Except in stars, its consistency is thin-
ner than any vacuum that man has been able to create on earth.
Despite the fierceness associated with its fiery temperature, plasma
is almost too delicate to exist in this cold and narrow corner of the uni-
verse we call earth. Here it is usually found only in such inhospitable
places as the heart of lightning bolts, the aurora borealis, and in electric
arcs. In ordinary earthly circumstances, plasma particles in their frantic
movement dash into the sluggish molecules of their colder surroundings
and lose their energy. Nevertheless, so full of portent for man's future
is this unearthly state of matter that its investigation has become in re-
cent years one of the largest research programs in the physical sciences.
As long ago as 1920, scientists began to assume that some sort of nu-
clear reaction must be going on within the plasma in the blazing mass of
the sun. Otherwise how could one explain its immense and long-term
I don't know, maybe it's just me (been reading tpod since before I can remember, but this just got me so excited to see confirmation like this I had to register and post here for everyone.